Maha polls: Cops ask Whatsapp admins to ensure peace

Maharashtra Police. (Image for Representation)

Ahead of the October 21 Assembly elections in Maharashtra, the police are issuing notices to administrators of WhatsApp groups in Pune district in a bid to curb circulation of offensive posts that can stir up trouble.

The notice asks administrators or `admins' to dissuade group members from making any political comment or criticism which may trigger altercations, a police official said.

"Many politicians are switching loyalties and joining the ruling parties, and they are being targeted and lambasted on WhatsApp groups....such kind of criticism, comments or discussion can trigger altercations between members," he said.

The war of words on WhatsApp can escalate and create a law and order situation when members belong to a particular area and know each other personally, the official added.

"To avoid this, Pune Police have issued notices under section 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and section 68 of the Maharashtra Police Act," the official said.

These provisions empower police to take suitable action to prevent a cognizable offence.

"The notice tells the group admin to ask the members not to make a political comment or criticism," he said.

If criticism or comment by any group member creates a law and order issue, then the member as well as the group admin(s) will be held responsible, he said.

In one such notice, issued to admin of 'Smart Pargaon Village' WhatsApp group, Narayangaon Police asked him to tell members not to make offensive political or personal comments.

"At least 68 notices have been served to WhatsApp group admins in Narayangaon area alone," said Arjun Ghode Patil, in-charge of the local police station.

Police are also issuing notices to users of YouTube and other social media platforms, asking them not to post videos that can disturb peace and harmony, he said.

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